Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Nightmares Only Scary at the Time

Every 20 years or so, I have some extraordinarily terrifying nightmare that's completely inexplicable in retrospect. I try and try but can't remember why I was so terrified.

At age six, I dreamed of a small pile of sand growing rapidly into a larger pile of sand, of its own accord. I woke up with a start, ran to my parents, screaming that the "Sooks" were coming. They asked me, naturally, what "The Sooks" were, but I couldn't articulate it. Yet I knew, with extraordinarily clear conviction, that they were a genuine peril. To this day I remain slightly on guard for the Sooks. I'm pretty sure I'll know them when I see them. In fact, in my mind, I'm only 90% recounting a cute childhood mystery. A part of me feels I'm doing crucial work by disseminating this warning.

When I was 26, I dreamed I had died, and gone to the holding place, where I watched the tally of the newly deceased rapidly roll by. I caught, almost by accident, my own name as it flashed by amid all the others. Nothing special. No asterisks. Just the name, done and gone. I woke up inconsolable, in hysterics. Which was very strange. I'm just not someone who cares about stuff like that. My will stipulates cremation without a service. I was a little famous for a minute, but didn't like it. I don't fear death, nor being forgotten. As with the Sooks, I've frequently tried to revisit the dream, but can't retrigger the response (this somehow makes it even more horrifying).

Last night I dreamt I was in the house in which I'd grown up, and discovered a secret door hidden in plain sight. This has been a fixture in many of my dreams - hotel rooms with overlooked massive extra wings, rooftop crawl spaces that keep expanding, wonderful restaurants just outside peripheral vision in otherwise familiar suburban housing developments. But in this case, I felt like my dream world had collided with my waking world. Screaming with terror in the dream, I tried to explain that I'd often dreamt stuff like this, and now it was REALLY HAPPENING. Then I woke up so discombobulated that I considered calling an ambulance.

A nightmare antidote (from this posting): "If you're plagued by nightmares full of scary monsters, the trick is to love the monsters (this was surely the original intent behind giving children teddy bears)."

Hmm, come to think of it, that's also the new Hillary Trick!

Then there's also the Metta Sutta ("Words of Love"), a Buddhist prayer for courage and safety making use of my flipping technique:

With a boundless heart
Should one cherish all beings:
Radiating love over the entire world
Spreading upwards to the skies,
And downwards to the depths.

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